I began writing this at 12:15 am this morning at South Church. It seems that my youngest daughter chose the family’s time for our part in the Prayer Vigil and there we sat.
In doing it, I realized that my prayer life is not what it should be. How did I know? I realized that I wasn’t able to simply sit and pray for others at the church, which was the point of the Vigil. It had been a rough day and I frankly, had too many things on my plate to get through before I even considered anyone else — the exact opposite of my awake time for the past few months. Apparently reading a scripture to think about before bed every night wasn’t enough. That was listening — I needed to talk. As a minister, a Christian and a therapist, I had not been taking good care of myself. Spending quiet time hadn’t been happening. When I get home, I generally plug in to one technology or another. Air-drumming to my iPod helps me get my frustrations out and undo the toll of listening to stories of personal and family evil. Friends who do counseling on occasion will say to me “How do you do that? It’s so exhausting!” but it isn’t to me an hour at a time. A long day with 6 or 7 clients, I can feel it. Otherwise, burnout runs below the radar.
The other thing is, of course, I get pig-headed or stuck in a groove or — maybe because I’m a guy — I don’t ask for help or let on that I need it. George and Ben, our Pastors, know about things but generally not most people because it’s my job to be concerned about them, not be their concern. A few months ago, I should have gotten a clue when George set me up with a Stephen Minister and when asked, I just laughed, unsure of what to say. My Stephen Minister, a man named Kyle has been a great help and support since he’s been in my schedule. Apparently, though, that wasn’t enough either. We talk, he listens, God reaches out and I have been touched, and I kept going. Last night, at 12:15am, I realized that that was the (buzzer sounds) “wrong answer!”.
I resent seeing clients, my students, my daughters, my wife, my friends because they ask for something and I have nothing to give. The other day, my car died on the way to school and it did so because I turned on my turn signal! That caused the car to slow down and not have enough juice to keep it running. When it got the shop, they explained that most alternators have some charge — 5 volts, 10 volts, 25 volts. Mine had nothing, not even one volt. Turns out that not only do you have to drain out the negative, you have to put in some positive. Oops. My alternator and my spirit look a lot alike at this point. Rest and time with God in peace and quiet were like the jump start that told me my battery was low.
So, dear brothers and sisters, I have a prayer request — that is, I want to request time to have a prayer life so that I can see just how out of whack I am. Apparently, I can’t find time for that, so your prayers for my prayer life would be greatly appreciated. With enough of those, I can see clearly enough to do it more. I have to force myself to receive from God’s Spirit for more than a half-hour every day. It would be like remembering to take my memory pills if such things existed. Remember, BTW, that I am not the only person in a helping profession who finds themselves in this position. As bad as it sounds, there are therapists, doctors, ministers, nurses, firefighters, police and so on that also have burn out sneak up on them, too. I am not alone.
And now for the other piece to my prayer request: about 4 months ago now, I was having headaches and getting weak in the legs at night and just generally feeling lousy. My doctor referred me to a specialist for an MRI and that sent me to a neurologist. My neurologist said then that I has some “spasticity” in my legs. Turns out that, in his words, “if you get whiplash, you could be paralyzed from the spot in your neck on down”. I have some sort of bone spur on the disc (near the disc, under the disc, something like that) between my c5 and c6 vertebrate. Since then, I have made a few changes like taking the train in the winter, adjusting my driving and being extra careful during the dark and foggy times so I’m still here. As a Christian, I am ok with going on to the next life where I’m sure I’ll like it, but I don’t want to leave this one. I’d like to see my kids grow up, be around for my 20th wedding anniversary next year, and just generally return to a fun life. I have never, in my adult life, been as terrified as I was when I first heard the news. Now, I really don’t worry about the surgery — the surgeons that I talked to seem competent and competent and the one that will do the surgery is Board Certified. I’m ready.
This leads me to notifying my friends, which I have now done, as you read this. On May 25th, I will have surgery on my c5\c6 neck\spine disks. I ask for your prayers for my surgery, just because it would be nice, (not necessarily because I need it). The warm glow of your prayers and\or good thoughts would feel really nice. Having said that, I apologize for letting folks who are important to me know sooner. That would have taken energy that I didn’t know I didn’t have and a slower gear I had forgotten about. Then, there’s that whole “pride and denial” thing that I had going. If I just acted like everything was ok and I was in charge of life, helping others, things would be ok. I did and they weren’t. If you find yourself in the same situation, I won’t give you grief because now I “get it”.
So there it is — a prayer request for my prayer life (Thanks to Patricia Brossart for having the Prayer Vigil at South Church),that I mind find a better and deeper one which will remind me to have one that works at all. Then prayers for my surgery on May 25. Thanks in advance.